Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

October 28, 2006 Categories: Books | 14 Comments  

I finished Great Expectations at 12:40 this morning and then went to bed. I should’ve gone to bed at a decent hour, since Natalie and I had stayed up til 11:45 the night before finishing our Global Puzzle, but I couldn’t stop reading until I knew what happened to Pip.

It’s funny, there are so many books that people say I should read. And until this year, I’ve completely rebelled against that idea. I want to read what I want to read. But as I’ve endeavored to expand my reading horizons this year and dipped into Jane Austen for the first time, and now some Dickens, I’m beginning to understand something. People call these books “classics” for a reason. They may take more time and concentration to read, but they are worth the investment.

Though these books are older and take place at a time far removed from our own, the issues and relationships and feelings involved are universal. The lessons that Pip and Miss Havisham and Elizabeth Bennett learn are lessons we all need to learn at various times in our lives. And authors like Dickens and Austen are considered the best for good reason – they have a way of describing their characters, time, and place that puts us there.

I’m not going to balk at reading the classics any longer. They take more work, but they’re worth it.


  1. Jodi

    Well, since you’re getting brave . . .

    Might I recommend Dostoevsky?


  2. Karen

    I need to go back and reread a few, and maybe try some I haven’t read. Emily will be doing Great Expectations in her freshman lit class this year, so I’ll probably reread it then. (Her teacher did admit that she doesn’t make them read the whole thing.)

  3. carrie

    Jodi – actually Brothers Karamazov is on my list for next year. It’s another one I’ve been told I “should” read. :)

    Karen – I think it’s weird that she’s not going to have them read the whole thing. Maybe an abridged version? But even then, it seems kind of a shame. It is long, but well worth it.

  4. momof3feistykids

    I delved into the classics later in life, too. I nursed my son through War and Peace, and worked my way through Jane Austen when I was about to deilver DD2. :-D

  5. Mrs. Moo

    Nice! *Grin*

  6. carrie

    Momof3 – I don’t know if I could’ve focused on War and Peace on the little sleep you get with a baby in the house!

    Mrs. Moo – :)

  7. Lawanda

    I havent yet managed War and Peace or any Dostoevsky, but they are on my list for sometime or other! :)

    Like I said, you inspired me to pick out a couple more Dickens that I hadnt read yet, so far so good :) I used to go the book store and peruse the “classics” section all the time!

    I love books from other times and places… Not that I have read a huge amount of them, but I do also like that they make you think.

    None of my lit. teachers EVER made us read entire works. Isnt that kinda…. uuuhhh …. Pointless?

    I had one teacher who taught using only cliffs notes (did I spell that right?) But it just seems a little silly to me.

    Seriously if people can understand Rappers, they could figure out Dickens as well!!!!!! :p

  8. Randi

    Great Expectations was my first Dickens as well; I read it last year. I loved it–the characters are wonderful! I keep telling myself to try another one of his books but I just haven’t. Maybe this week???

  9. Carol in Oregon

    Congratulations! I’m a big fan of reading classics. They are so rich in character development; reading a classic satisfies in a way no pulp fiction can. This weekend I was at a garage sale and saw a stack of old, dusty books. It was the complete works of Dumas and a set of Dickens (not complete).

    I asked the price and the lady had tears come into her eyes. “If you would value them, you can have them,” was her poignant reply. “They’ve been in the family for generations but none of my children want them.” I checked the font (they have to be readable) and gave her some money. More Dickens to read: yippee!

    Right now they are in the garage, waiting to be cleaned with the air compressor. And then I have to find the shelf space for them. Yikes!

  10. carrie

    Lawanda – that’s weird, the lit teachers I remember wouldn’t allow us to use Cliff’s Notes at all. They wanted us to actually read the books.

    Randi – I’m going to try A Tale of Two Cities sometime soon.

    Carol – what a great find!

  11. Lawanda

    Well, I do live in WV, remember! And these were High School lit. classes, too, not college or anything. I am positive that makes a difference ;) Plus only one of them did the cliffs notes thing. But seriously, I had one teacher tell me specifically not to read the whole of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. But I was enjoying them, so I ignored her :)

    I am very much enjoying Pickwick Papers, too. I literally laughed out loud for ten minutes last night!! It is quite funny. TY again for the nudge ;)

  12. carrie

    Lawanda – you’re welcome! I’ll have to add Pickwick Papers to my list.

  13. Elise

    I stumbled upon your site through Tonia’s at Intent – I just wanted to say that I love Great Expectations as well! It has always been my favorite – and so many lessons to learn.
    Little Dorrit is another excellent Dickens.
    Anyway, I enjoy your site – I’ll be back!

  14. carrie

    Elise – Thanks for stopping by! I am adding all the Dickens titles to my ever-growing “to-read” list.